If the thought of taking the chill off the upcoming winter evenings by making a home-cooked meal sounds right up your alley, then the Buena Vista Edible Schoolyard has just the class for you.

The program, set up on a 2-acre parcel off Panama and Buena Vista roads, partners with nearby Buena Vista Elementary School for classes teaching students how to grow, harvest and prepare produce in its garden and kitchen. Now it's looking to expand into offering cooking classes to the public, kicking off with a trio of cozy meal classes in January.

Each class is for a different age group. The first, for adults (18 and over), will take place Jan. 9. The menu attendees will help prepare consists of an edamame appetizer, vegetarian wonton soup and Asian spinach salad. 

The next is Jan 16 for budding chefs ages 12 to 17, who will prepare a crostini appetizer with ricotta cheese and herbs, potato and leek soup and chopped kale salad.

The last class is Jan. 23 for students 7 to 11 with a menu of a cheesy toast appetizer, spinach and chickpea soup and carrot ribbon salad.

Classes will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on the designated day at the Buena Vista Edible Schoolyard, 6520 Buena Vista Road. Cost is $45. Enroll at esykerncounty.org.

Autonomy Farms in spotlight

Something else to look forward to in January is the appearance of Autonomy Farms on national television. This summer the local farm, run by Meredith Bell, filmed with the crew of "Billion Dollar Buyer." The CNBC reality show follows businessman Tilman Fertitta, CEO and owner of Landry's Inc., as he works with small-business owners to see if they have what it takes to partner with the company, which supplies his restaurants, hotels and entertainment brands.

The episode, which debuts Jan. 3 on CNBC, will reveal if Bell has formed a partnership with Mastro's Steakhouse, a high-end national restaurant group that currently offers menu items from large-scale distributors and corn-finished beef. 

Buy-one-get-one goodness

Cafe Rio, which opened to much fanfare earlier this week — as the first business in the much-discussed first business to open in the Stockdale Center project at Stockdale Highway and Coffee Road — is not done with us yet.

The Mexican chain is offering Bakersfield diners a buy one, get one free deal on any burrito or salad. The deal is good through Wednesday with a printed coupon. Go to caferio.com/l/bakersfield-bogo to print the coupon. 

Season of giving at Tahoe Joe's

There are many toy drives and collections this holiday season but Tahoe Joe's has spiced its version up. The steakhouse has partnered with Toys for Tots, with each restaurant serving as a donation location. 

Bring in a new, unwrapped toy valued at $5 or more now through Dec. 15 and receive a free appetizer in return. No other purchase is necessary for the deal, offered only as a dine-in option. The offer is not good on "big railroad" appetizers and cannot be used with any other discount.

Do you know of any other restaurants offering food or a discount for holiday donations? Send us the details at thedish@bakersfield.com.

Go away, holiday grease

Thanksgiving's done but you're likely to have one or two more holiday meals on tap this month that could involve major deep frying or other oil-based cooking. Along with the work that goes into the preparation is the cleanup; and beyond the dishwashing and trash collection is possibly the grossest post-feast task of all: dumping the grease. Don't you dare say that's going down the drain. Used oil and cooking grease solidifies in the pipes and clogs the sewer system.

But take heart, home cooks. The city of Bakersfield is swooping in like Santa's elves to save the day. It is offering a holiday grease collection now through Jan. 5. The service is free for city residents, who can drop off their used cooking oil and grease to the Wastewater Treatment Plant 3 (6901 McCutchen Road) from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays. Note that the plant is closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.

Any questions? Call 326-3249 for details.


Shmaltz Brewing Co. released Star Trek Captain's Holiday, a brand-new collector's edition beer commemorating the 30th anniversary of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." This is the third Star Trek beer this year from Shmaltz, which released Star Trek Symbiosis at San Diego Comic-Con this summer and Star Trek Klingon Imperial Porter before that.

The brewer is the only one officially licensed to make Star Trek beers in the United States. Last year, it released Star Trek Golden Anniversary Ales to celebrate the franchise's 50th anniversary.

Captain's Holiday, which takes its name from a "TNG" episode in which Captain Picard (Patrick Steward) takes a much-needed vacation on the pleasure planet Risa, evokes the tropics with a hint of orange peel and lime. It is being sold in four-packs to retail outlets in 35 states.

New and different

Blue Oak Coffee Roasting downtown has been knocking it out of the park with its bakery specials, most notably a peppermint cocoa espresso cookie. ... Reading Cinemas Valley Plaza with IMAX, which recently launched an expanded menu designed by veteran Food Network Chef Santos Loo, was highlighting its new vanilla cream churros as the perfect weekend movie-going snack. ... Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill + Bar is offering $1 Long Island iced teas, better known as the Dollar L.I.T., through the month of December. The cocktails — made with a mix of vodka, rum, gin, tequila, triple sec and sweet & sour mix with a splash of cola — are available all day but remember to drink responsibly.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.